Transitioning to a Vegetarian Lifestyle

As I have studied nutrition, it has become very clear that meat should only be consumed in moderate amounts if we want optimal health. Research has shown a correlation between high amounts of animal protein consumption with major medical conditions such as heart disease and cancer!

The problem with our current thinking is that most people consider meat as an essential part of every meal… most Americans consume around 20% of their daily calories in meat. The billion-dollar meat industry encourages people to eat meat with every meal and positions it as a healthy food– of course they want you to eat meat, because it means there will be more money in their pockets! Many people don’t understand that meat can be detrimental to our health, and it is sad to me to see so many people misinformed about their “healthy” diet.

Even when people start to understand that meat needs to be eaten on a limited basis, they are still hesitant to cut back on their meat consumption because they don’t know what to cook. It is hard to change your thinking and eating habits, but it is possible– I did it!

My default protein sources are beans and nuts. There are many DELICIOUS bean-based recipes out there that your family will love. You can even adjust some of your current recipes to include beans instead of meat. For example, if you family loves your homemade chicken enchilada recipe, try switching out the chicken for black beans.

Start out by challenging yourself to make 2 meat-free meals a week. This will allow you to try out a few new recipes (or alter old recipes) without being overwhelmed or stressed about having to drastically change your lifestyle over night. Over time, add in more meat-less meals and very soon you will find that it wasn’t as hard as you thought it would be.

When I learned about the health implications of high animal protein consumption, I started phasing out meat slowly. My husband was a little unsure in the beginning, but he began to see that we could still eat delicious and filling meals without including meat every time. Over the course of a year I continued to phase meat out of our cooking, and now I rarely cook meat at home. I have only cooked meat at home twice in the past year, and both times it was because we had guests over that were heavy meat eaters.

I have not chosen to be a true “vegetarian” because I hate the label. I believe that there is moderation in all things, and it is ok for me to eat meat on an occasional basis. My meat consumption always stays under 5% of my calories, and I usually only eat meat once or twice a month– usually when I am eating a meal at a friend’s house.

P.S. If you want more detailed information about the research that has been conducted in regards to animal protein and health, read the book called “The China Study.” It has some fascinating information about how meat and dairy affect health.  You can read more about it on my book review page here: http://everydayhealthgirl.com/products-i-recommend/book-reviews/

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